July visits to Burrow Farm Garden, East Devon & East Lambrook Manor Gardens, Somerset

Burrow Farm Garden – Dedicated labour for a love of the garden

On one of the hottest days of the year . . . stay cool in a coach.
We toured Burrow Farm Gardens with the creator’s grandson hearing how his grandmother, Mary Benger, had created the first garden in 1966 converting an old clay pit. Gradually over the years more of her husband’s farmland was expanded into garden until in 1983 he finally retired from dairy farming.
There are thirteen acres: starting at the Millennium Garden with its ancient door way and new rill overlooking the Devon landscape, then a path through tall grasses to traditional rose and herbaceous borders, through glades and across lawns, where members noticed a large Gleditsia Triacanthos ‘Ruby Lace’ in bronze glory.
Then to wild life ponds and wild flower meadows, where Michael has planted hundreds of orchids, before dropping down to the lake reminiscent of the east.
Further west is the original woodland garden which reminded me of India, what with the flies, still heat and huge leaved gunnera as well as other damp loving plants, trees and shrubs. I could imagine a tiger emerging to take me to tea in the courtyard garden.
Then up to the rim of the clay pit to take in the picturesque vista from the ha-ha, of what could be one of Constable’s cottages, framed by mature trees.
Before departure a browse through the nursery and shop under a shower of rain, with a last look at the terrace garden of wide gravel path and borders with arch and restful seat beyond.

1. Terrace Garden
11. Rose Garden
12. Rose Garden

East Lambrook Gardens

Every twenty years I visit East Lambrook Manor, so each time there has been a different owner.
Entering via the gate to the Barton and Malthouse, we take a seat on the lawn under the shelter of a huge sycamore tree where Mike who, together with Gail, are the current custodians. He gave us a very informative and amusing talk about Margery Fish’s iconic English cottage garden and her life. She married her boss Walter Fish, who swore the place was a death trap and he would not be moving there but did, in 1937. Similarly, the present owners in 2007, thought it was ‘not for us’ and ended up moving there in 2008.
As a Grade I listed garden – together with 240 others, including Trafalgar Square – it is a labour of care and continuation. Although, unlike Margery’s ‘humble cottage garden’, her practise of digging up plants for visitors is not maintained, but there is a thriving nursery. The two acres of garden surrounds a 15th century hall house and illustrates perfectly the early 20th century quintessential English cottage garden. Divided into lawns; paved paths lead one on an adventure through a rich planting of roses and cottage garden favourites with symmetry provided by ‘pudding trees’ topiary, walls and hedges. Reaching the lido and the ditch, (renowned in February for snowdrops) now dry, but planted with shade and moisture loving foliage. Either side ornamental and fruit trees are inter-planted with lilies and herbaceous plants, as well as a lawned walk. Members were stumped by a pale blue clematis drooping over the day lily, Joan Senior, the colour of a lemon mousse.

Clematis ‘Joan Senior’

The whole garden is so luxuriant that I could be tempted to wallow in the planting, and certainly hope to visit again long before 2042.

Photos and Text by Sarah Herring